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SHOCKED witnesses told last night how a five-year-old girl was shot by three young gangsters riding bicycles.

by Mike Sullivan, Crime Editor, and Anthony France
(Courtesy: The Sun)
Hit in the chest ... little Thusa Kamaleswaran

(March 31, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The bandana-wearing thugs - thought to be aged 13 to 15 - chased two rival gang members before the hunted pair dived into a shop for cover.

The pursuers clambered off their bikes. And one fired indiscriminately through the door of the food and wine store with a silver handgun.

Little Thusa Kamaleswaran - on a social visit with her family to the owners of the shop - was hit in the chest, with a bullet missing her heart by less than an inch.

Another innocent bystander, 35-year-old Roshan Selvakumar, was shot in the face.

The pair were taken to hospital for life-saving surgery.

Thusa had two operations and underwent a third last night. Her parents - Sri Lankans living in London - were at her bedside. Both victims were in a "critical but stable" condition.

The girl's uncle Vicknes Mahadevan, who was among the family visitors, said: "I was at the back of the shop, then heard something. I rushed out and could see the shooting.

"Thusa was hit on the right side of her chest. There was blood everywhere. She was flat on the floor. It was horrible."

The gun thugs fled on their bikes after the shootings in Stockwell, South London - chased by their intended victims.

A local man who gave his name as George said: "They looked like schoolkids and were only aged around 13 to 15."

Paramedics were called. And witness Sandra Rossetto, 45, said: "One was stroking the girl's forehead over and over. She was awake. They were pushing on her chest for ten minutes trying to stop the bleeding.

"The other person was on the floor being treated. There was a lot of blood."

A local businessman named Das said: "I went inside the shop and saw a little girl lying face down like she was asleep.

"There was a hole on the right side of her chest, up near her heart. The mum was crying and screaming."

A neighbour told how paramedics took Thusa on to the street outside the shop "and began operating on her there".

He said: "I saw an ambulance officer had something like a small piece of metal. It could have been a bullet."

CCTV footage from a nearby shop showed the two intended victims milling around the food and wine store. Occasionally, they went out into the street and walked up and down. Three minutes before the attack one of the thugs - in a dark hoodie - rolls past on a metal-coloured bike. The intended victims left the scene, only to return being chased by the gang.

The shooting of Thusa stunned the neighbourhood even though it has become hardened to tit-for-tat violence between rival gangs.

Local cycle shop owner Barney Stutter, 45, said: "The truth is the gunman is probably about 15 with a mentality of about five.

"I am sure they'll all be caught but we are disgusted at what happened."

Detectives from the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident, which tackles gun crime in London's black community, were last night hunting the teenage gangsters.

The attacked shop and the bookmakers next door, which has a bullet hole in its front window, were cordoned off as officers searched the scene.

Anyone with information should call police on 020 8247 4553 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Twenty young men and a boy of 15 were arrested in raids across London yesterday by police targeting drug pushers linked to gangs.

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